By Yakubu Dati
Self- glorification is not new to Nigerians as a relevance-seeking strategy by politicians who have been left stranded at the bus stop in the new scheme of things. If that strategy appears to be failing, some adept politicians advise that you quickly combine it with self-righteous pontifications which you shoot at those in government. These salvos would usually make you smell like roses, such that those who dumped you at the bus stop, would forever regret the day they did not take you along with the convoy. Sadly, for one young and well educated politician with such great potential, known as Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, this has been the case since he left government five years ago.
This new-found public-spirited commentator who jumps on any issue under the sun in our troubled polity, usually expresses views that range from the ridiculous, to the frivolous, to the unserious, to the kindergarten, to the downright sleazy. Even Fani-Kayode himself admits that he thrives in controversy.
Last week’s most recent tragic death of several Nigerians in an air crash in Ikeja Lagos provided Fani-Kayode with his latest ammunition. And, firing on all cylinders, he has gleefully launched a barrage of verbal attacks at the President, Goodluck Jonathan, at ranking executives of his former party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and at the current Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, among others.
As is typical of Fani-Kayode, his attacks on his political friends-turned-opponents in the PDP, is both virulent and self-serving. Let’s take a look.
Fani-Kayode says: “Before the first crash took place last year and between the two major crashes there were numerous other smaller ones involving light aircraft, private jets, military planes and helicopters that were not publicised. All these unfortunate events occurred under the tenure of Princess Stella Oduah, who is the current Minister of Aviation. Under her watch, close to 200 souls have been killed in air crashes in the last two years alone. This does not surprise me given the nature of the individual that is involved.”
Fani-Kayode is very funny. One, Oduah is not responsible for military aircraft. Two, is he suggesting that Princess Oduah likes Nigerians to be killed and that the death of this large number of Nigerians has something to do with “the nature of the individual that is involved,” in this case, Oduah?
What is in “the nature” of the current Aviation minister that is attracting air crashes but did not attract air crashes during Fani-Kayode’s, tenure but also attracted numerous fatal crashes during Fani-Kayode’s predecessor, Babalola Borisade’s tenure and his (Borisade’s predecessor), Kema Chikwe’s tenure as Aviation minister? Fani-Kayode who is known to have attended a seminary, must have a special nature which prevents air crashes!
Fani-Kayode then takes his comments further into the realm of the ridiculous when he says:” As a matter of fact, I am convinced that even if 1,000 people were killed in air crashes in the space of just six months under President Goodluck Jonathan, he would still not re-deploy or sack Stella Oduah because our President just “doesn’t give a damn”.
Now, perhaps, we can safely assume that Fani-Kayode wants more Nigerians to die in order to prove that his comments are right. Rather, we should ask Fani-Kayode this question: “Why should any Nigerian die from an air crash?” Really, to any right thinking person, why would the president or the aviation minister want anybody to die from an air plane crash?
Such opportunistic criticism by Fani-Kayode is insensitive, and this shows him to be guilty of the same ill he accuses others of. Is the lives of Nigerians who are killed in air crashes now to be counted as if one was counting chicken, in order to know who had the highest casualties? How can Fani-Kayode be this insensitive and callous?
Hear Fani-Kayode again, this time as he blows his own trumpet: “There were no air crashes under my watch and not one drop of blood was spilt from the air whilst I was minister of aviation, whether it be passenger plane, private jet, helicopter or light aircraft. I thank God for that, because if it had happened I would not have been able to sleep at night.”
“I am the only Minister of Aviation in Nigeria between 2002 to date that can lay claim to that. I put it down to hard work, prayer and the grace of God and nothing else. Unlike some others, I was literally paranoid when it came to air safety and security because it was obvious to me that there was more to the whole thing than meets the eye.” He however also tells us that he was literally “paranoid” about air safety and security.
What Fani-Kayode did not tell us however, is how his subsuming “paranoia” helped to prevent air crashes! Very soon, we may begin to teach paranoia in aviation and management schools as a remedy for air crashes! His statement is contradictory, giving us a glimpse into what appears to be a confused state of mind. On one hand he says “hard work” prevented air crashes, then, on the other hand, he says “there is more to the whole thing than meets the eye.” Now, he is waxing spiritual.
We also know that Fani-Kayode’s cant has not been restricted to the Aviation industry. During the recent furore over the deportation of some Igbo indigenes from Lagos State, Fani-Kayode who again jumped on the argument train, regaled the Nigerian public with his scandalous tales of some prominent Igbo ladies, howbeit, married women, with who he had intimate relationships with. Is this ex-minister and presidential aide so bereft of gentlemanly honour? Is Fani-Kayode so blinded by his quest for political relevance and his bizarre love for controversy that he would through decorum to the winds?
Perhaps, we may introduce Fani-Kayode to a new line of business which should turn out to be very lucrative—an FFK secret potion for the prevention of air crashes. It also has ingredients that make it a potent aphrodisiac for FFK’s ladies.
Sadly, it would seem that Chief Fani-Kayode has failed to justify the huge investment made by his well respected father to educate him in some of the best schools in England and elsewhere. When a lawyer with such rich pedigree cannot present a coherent, reasonable argument on a simple but serious matter that is already in the public arena, then you wonder what went wrong somewhere. FFK is simply self-delusional.
If Fani-Kayode was not playing to the public gallery, Oduah has always, quite rightly, held him in high esteem, extending to him the traditional courtesy expected to be accorded a former aviation minister .On that basis, one would expect that if the former minister has any advice and knowledge which he believes would help prevent air crashes in the country, he would have forwarded these to the current Aviation minister. Rather, Fani-Kayode has engaged himself in unconscionable cant, double-speak and downright self-glorification totally unbecoming of a former minister of aviation or any high office holder for that matter.
Fani only spent seven months Nov 2006 to May, 2007 as aviation minister yet he had become an expert in aviation.”
Mr Datti is the general manager, corporate communication, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN